When I met Andrew, he told me he wanted to pursue a calling to the priesthood. I had only been an Episcopalian for three years when we met so I was not sure what that would mean By the time we were married I was certain that Andrew and I were called to ministry together. When I met Andrew, he told me he wanted to pursue a calling to the priesthood. I had only been an Episcopalian for three years when we met so I was not sure what that would mean By the time we were married I was certain that Andrew and I were called to ministry together. I talked to clergy wives to get their perspectives on life married to a priest.
One of the most important pieces of advice was about starting a family. They all felt it was better to have the family priorities in place before going to seminary. We ended up waiting to begin seminary through the birth of our first two children. Our third child came along during the second summer of Andrew’s education (it’s typically a three-year process). My life has been one long succession of serving ministries. I was working as a vocational nurse in Albuquerque when I met Andrew.
That vocation went into hiatus during the pregnancy of our first child. That eventually was a permanent change as I became a stay-at-home mom, the second of my satisfying servant ministries. Upon Andrew’s graduation from seminary, and ordination, I took up my third servant ministry as a clergy spouse. I was deeply moved and grateful for this new calling. Being the wife of a priest has been a rich and rewarding vocation for me. Andrew and I could see that we each had our own special and complimentary gifts which allowed us to reach out more widely than we could alone.
After Andrew served as a curate in San Diego, we were called to St Paul’s in the Desert in Palm Springs where he became the rector. This was a hard move for our family because there were no children in our neighborhood. Also, I was suffering from depression from being a stay-at-home mom for so long with no challenges of my own. Many years later, when I reflected on that time, I realized that faithfully answering the call to Palm Springs put in motion what would become my fourth servant ministry. I went back to college and after six years had a bachelor’s degree in art and a multi-subject teaching credential. My two jobs over the span of 16 years were at two schools with the greatest absences, lowest reading scores, and lowest socio-economic rates in the area.
One Sunday morning, six years ago, Andrew asked me to come to church to help him. All the altar servers were missing and he was going to train me to be an acolyte/chalice bearer. He had ten minutes and would appreciate me getting there immediately. That morning when I held the gospel book aloft in the procession, I felt as if I had been electrocuted! That is what it feels like to be called by the Holy Spirit. I was being called to be a Christ Bearer in an ordained capacity. Two years ago I retired from teaching to pursue my education at the School for Ministry in Ocean Beach as I continued to discern my call to the diaconate.
My academic education is now complete. I have had the privilege of serving at all the churches in the Coachella Valley during my formation process. With my ordination to the diaconate on June 17, I will begin a new phase of ministry with Andrew. The next day we will celebrate 40 years of marriage. What a life God has called us to. I encourage you to listen with the ear of your heart to see if God is calling you to a servant ministry as well. It’s never too late. +
Learn more about Susan’s theological training program: sfmedsd.org
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